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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Bolt Action - AAR: Winters is Coming

As a nod to the upcoming D-Day anniversary the team at have been chatting about scenarios and my crew in Newcastle, Australia played out a night time US Airborne parachute landing in Normandy. I have spoken in a previous article about the Warlord rules regarding night time battles and the house rules to simulate a parachute landing, so now it was time to see how it would work in practice.

To kick off the scene the Germans were set up to simulate an artillery battery, so a heavy and medium howitzer were placed close together in amongst some sand bags and an 88 was placed nearby to act as some AA defence for the artillery. The 88 would be manned throughout the game but the artillery were objectives for the Airborne to destroy and the nominal crew turned into a squad of regular Heer. To support the artillery a regular Heer squad were patrolling the area as well as a motorbike and sidecar, an MMG team, a Lt, a squad of SS and an SS Captain. The SS units were to be inside a hotel towards the end of the table partaking in some local wine which was to have a big impact later in the game (the wine that is!).

The US Airborne forces consisted of four squads of 6-men each, Lt Winters (no special rule), a Major, Sniper team, MMG, Flame team and a medic. For deployment the Germans were already on the table and the US had to parachute in using the method where the table was broken into quarters and labelled 1 through 4. The US player rolled a d4 to determine what quarter they would land in, an order dice to choose direction (each side has a little arrow) and 2d6 to work our distance from the center point of that quarter. 

In turn one the US brought down 2 squads and the Major directly next to the artillery objectives (amazing luck!) however with the night time rules only 2 squads could actually see the defending troops to engage and they were able to score some hits and got some hits in return as a firefight gathered momentum. To recap the night time rules if a unit is 6” from the target you have to make 6+ from 2d6 and add or subtract any modifiers such as the target unit has fired and you can see the muzzle flashes (+6 to your result). A total of 5 units landed in quadrant 2 with a further 4 in quadrant 3, with one each in 1 and 4, with the restrictions on being able to see the rest of the first turn was just about getting units on the board and the Germans trying to react to the sudden appearance of elite infantry in their area of responsibility. The SS units in the hotel for example heard shots but on looking at the windows could not see anything so went back to drinking.

Turn two and the US got the first dice which allowed them to move a flamethrower team within range of a Heer squad and flamed them into oblivion (6 hits and 6 kills with a failed moral test), this left the artillery placement open and the with some successful spot roles the defending Heer were wiped out. The remaining German Lt charged out and unleashed his SMG into the grass next to the US Major who contemptuously pulled out his pearl handled 1911 and disposed of him and continued to the guns. Lt Winters and his buddy moved up towards the 88 and took out a few crew with SMG’s, while the sidecar started to engage the forces in quadrant 3. Meanwhile the SS continued to hear lots of shooting but preferred to continue drinking rather than shoot (more failed spot roles).

Turn three and Lt Winters cleans up the rest of the 88 crew in true heroic fashion (who needs troops?) and the US Major and two squads move onto the guns, place explosives and blow them back to Berlin. This result will now impact the next game around the beach landing as the Germans will no longer have artillery observers available. The German motorbike and sidecar keep harassing the US in quadrant 3 while the SS team finally exit the hotel and start shooting but their Captain whilst holding a bottle of wine yells out “I see nothinggggg” as an Airborne unit cringes at his feet (rolled a double 1 on spot check). An Airborne unit in the 4th quadrant hits the deck and just can’t get motivated to charge an MMG team.

Start of turn four and the German player is really against it, all the objectives have been met by the Airborne forces and now it is just about saving face. It starts badly as Lt Winters casually wipes out the German MMG team and the SS tries to do the same and assaults an Airborne MMG crew, only to pump a whole bunch of rounds into the ground next to the crew (4 dice and 0 hits). The MMG crew whistle ‘over here buddy’ and finish off the belt at point blank, killing the command team. The German player concedes as his options are now almost non-existent and the Airborne claim the victory.

The game was full of classic BA moments, with the added dynamic of a ‘Spot’ check the cinematic moments were full on with lots of mimicking of German officers swigging from a wine bottles and German soldiers ducking for cover as US paratroopers land on their heads! The night time fighting meant that combat was close to maximise spot checks and the standard no brainer order to ‘fire’ had a new element which meant that you had a good chance to be spotted and shot at so you had to choose the right moments. The parachute dispersion rules worked well and I highly recommend trying them or even making up your own rules to mix things up and create a really dynamic environment to play in.

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